What’s the Best Mouthwash?

What’s the Best Mouthwash?
4.68 (93.6%) 25 votes

There’s a cheap concoction one can make at home that safely wipes out cavity-forming bacteria on our teeth better than chlorhexidine mouthwash and also reduces their plaque-forming ability.

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The effects of a vegetarian diet on systemic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart diseases have been studied, and revealed predominantly less systemic diseases in vegetarians, but there have only been a few studies on oral health, which I covered in previous videos… but what’s the latest? In a study of 100 vegetarians compared to a 100 nonvegetarians, the vegetarians had better periodontal conditions: less signs of inflammation like gum bleeding, less periodontal damage and a better dental home care, brushing and flossing 2.17 times a day compared to 2.02 times a day, not that much of a difference, so maybe it was something about their diet, though vegetarians may have a healthier lifestyle overall beyond just avoiding meat. They controlled for smoking, but other things like obesity can adversely affect oral health, so there may be confounding factors. What we need is an interventional study, where they take people eating the standard Western diet, improve their diets, and see what happens, but no such study existed, until now.

With professional support of nutritionists, the participants of the study with existing periodontal disease changed their dietary patterns to so-called wholesome nutrition, a diet emphasizing veggies, fruits, whole grains, potatoes, beans, peas, lentils, and spices with water as the preferred beverage. (What a concept.) To make sure any changes they witnessed were due to the diet, they made sure they maintained their same oral hygiene before and after the dietary change. What did they find? They found that eating healthier appeared to lead to a significant reduction of probing pocket depth, gingival inflammation, and levels of inflammatory cytokines, which mediate the tissue destruction in periodontal disease. So it may be concluded that wholesome nutrition may improve periodontal health. Why though? Yes, plant based diets have a number of nutritional benefits in terms of nutrient density, but it also may be about improving balance between free radicals and our antioxidant defense system.

Traditionally, dietary advice for oral health was just about avoiding sugar, which feed the bad bacteria on our teeth, but now we realize some foods and beverages, like green tea, possess antimicrobial properties to combat the plaque producing bacteria directly.

Streptococcus mutans has been identified as oral enemy #1. If plaque is caused by bacteria, why not just use antibiotics? Many such attempts have been made, however undesirable side-effects such as antibiotic resistance, vomiting, diarrhea and teeth stains have precluded their use. In a petri dish, green tea phytonutrients effectively inhibit the growth of these bacteria, but what about in our mouth? They found that rinsing with green tea strongly inhibited the growth of the plaque bacteria on our teeth within minutes. Seven minutes after swishing with green tea, the number of these bacteria in the plaque scrape from people’s teeth was cut nearly in half. So if you have people swish sugar water in their mouths, within three minutes the pH on our teeth can drop into the cavity formation danger zone. But if 20 minutes before swishing with sugar water, you swished with some green tea, you wipe out so many plaque bacteria that the same sugar water hardly has any effect at all. So, they conclude, using green tea as a mouthwash or adding it to toothpaste could be a cost-effective cavity prevention measure, especially in developing countries, because here in the civilized world we have antiseptic mouthwashes with fancy chemicals like chlorhexidine, considered the gold standard anti-plaque agent.

If only it didn’t cause genetic damage. DNA damage has been detected in individuals who rinsed their mouths with chlorhexidine-containing mouthwashes, and not just to cells in the mouth. 13 volunteers rinsed their mouths with the stuff for a few weeks and there was an increase in DNA damage both from the cells lining their cheeks as well as their peripheral blood cells, suggesting it was absorbed into their bodies. Yes, it reduced plaque better than other antiseptic chemicals, however, it might be doubtful whether chlorhexidine can still be considered the golden standard when considering how toxic it is to human cells.

So are we left with having to decide between effectiveness or safety? How about a head to head test between chlorhexidine and green tea? Green tea worked better than chlorhexidine at reducing plaque. So using green tea as a mouthwash may work cheaper, safer, and better. And if as a bonus you want to sprinkle some amla powder into it, dried Indian gooseberry powder, it evidently shows an outstanding cavity-stopping potential not by killing off the bacteria like green tea, but just by suppressing it’s plaque forming abilities. Here’s how much plaque is formed without amla, Here’s how much is formed with.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to treobenny via Flickr.

The effects of a vegetarian diet on systemic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart diseases have been studied, and revealed predominantly less systemic diseases in vegetarians, but there have only been a few studies on oral health, which I covered in previous videos… but what’s the latest? In a study of 100 vegetarians compared to a 100 nonvegetarians, the vegetarians had better periodontal conditions: less signs of inflammation like gum bleeding, less periodontal damage and a better dental home care, brushing and flossing 2.17 times a day compared to 2.02 times a day, not that much of a difference, so maybe it was something about their diet, though vegetarians may have a healthier lifestyle overall beyond just avoiding meat. They controlled for smoking, but other things like obesity can adversely affect oral health, so there may be confounding factors. What we need is an interventional study, where they take people eating the standard Western diet, improve their diets, and see what happens, but no such study existed, until now.

With professional support of nutritionists, the participants of the study with existing periodontal disease changed their dietary patterns to so-called wholesome nutrition, a diet emphasizing veggies, fruits, whole grains, potatoes, beans, peas, lentils, and spices with water as the preferred beverage. (What a concept.) To make sure any changes they witnessed were due to the diet, they made sure they maintained their same oral hygiene before and after the dietary change. What did they find? They found that eating healthier appeared to lead to a significant reduction of probing pocket depth, gingival inflammation, and levels of inflammatory cytokines, which mediate the tissue destruction in periodontal disease. So it may be concluded that wholesome nutrition may improve periodontal health. Why though? Yes, plant based diets have a number of nutritional benefits in terms of nutrient density, but it also may be about improving balance between free radicals and our antioxidant defense system.

Traditionally, dietary advice for oral health was just about avoiding sugar, which feed the bad bacteria on our teeth, but now we realize some foods and beverages, like green tea, possess antimicrobial properties to combat the plaque producing bacteria directly.

Streptococcus mutans has been identified as oral enemy #1. If plaque is caused by bacteria, why not just use antibiotics? Many such attempts have been made, however undesirable side-effects such as antibiotic resistance, vomiting, diarrhea and teeth stains have precluded their use. In a petri dish, green tea phytonutrients effectively inhibit the growth of these bacteria, but what about in our mouth? They found that rinsing with green tea strongly inhibited the growth of the plaque bacteria on our teeth within minutes. Seven minutes after swishing with green tea, the number of these bacteria in the plaque scrape from people’s teeth was cut nearly in half. So if you have people swish sugar water in their mouths, within three minutes the pH on our teeth can drop into the cavity formation danger zone. But if 20 minutes before swishing with sugar water, you swished with some green tea, you wipe out so many plaque bacteria that the same sugar water hardly has any effect at all. So, they conclude, using green tea as a mouthwash or adding it to toothpaste could be a cost-effective cavity prevention measure, especially in developing countries, because here in the civilized world we have antiseptic mouthwashes with fancy chemicals like chlorhexidine, considered the gold standard anti-plaque agent.

If only it didn’t cause genetic damage. DNA damage has been detected in individuals who rinsed their mouths with chlorhexidine-containing mouthwashes, and not just to cells in the mouth. 13 volunteers rinsed their mouths with the stuff for a few weeks and there was an increase in DNA damage both from the cells lining their cheeks as well as their peripheral blood cells, suggesting it was absorbed into their bodies. Yes, it reduced plaque better than other antiseptic chemicals, however, it might be doubtful whether chlorhexidine can still be considered the golden standard when considering how toxic it is to human cells.

So are we left with having to decide between effectiveness or safety? How about a head to head test between chlorhexidine and green tea? Green tea worked better than chlorhexidine at reducing plaque. So using green tea as a mouthwash may work cheaper, safer, and better. And if as a bonus you want to sprinkle some amla powder into it, dried Indian gooseberry powder, it evidently shows an outstanding cavity-stopping potential not by killing off the bacteria like green tea, but just by suppressing it’s plaque forming abilities. Here’s how much plaque is formed without amla, Here’s how much is formed with.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to treobenny via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

I now just keep a mason jar filled with cold-steeped green tea (Cold Steeping Green Tea) with a spoonful of amla in the fridge and swish and swallow any time I’m rummaging around in there. For extra credit you can gargle a bit with it too (see my video Can Gargling Prevent the Common Cold?).

Green tea shouldn’t be the primary beverage of children, though, as the natural fluoride content may cause cosmetic spots on the teeth. For more check out my video Childhood Tea Drinking May Increase Fluorosis Risk.

Here’s the links to the two oral health videos I refer to in the video: Plant-Based Diets: Oral Health and Plant-Based Diets: Dental Health.

Another reason we may want to avoid antibacterial mouthwashes is that they can kill off the good bacteria on our tongue instrumental in enhancing athletic performance with nitrate-containing vegetables. See my video Don’t Use Antiseptic Mouthwash.

Green tea doesn’t just kill off harmful bacteria, but harmful viruses as well. Check out Treating Genital Warts with Green Tea.

Need a reminder what amla is? More on dried Indian gooseberry powder power in:

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

157 responses to “What’s the Best Mouthwash?

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  1. What about coconut oil? My mouth never felt so clean and the added bonus, my teeth have gotten whiter. How much whiter? Don’t use those harsh chemicals to whiten them any more!




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    1. You can get Listerine Naturals (with or without Fluoride) at the supermarket. It is like an herbal tea and it is convenient. Topical Fluoride makes a tighter web in the teeth (much stronger) and prevents stains from forming. Learn about the disadvantages of not using topical Fluoride long term.




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        1. There are two important things to learn here:

          The sublingual area (just beneath the tongue) and the mucosa lining the whole buccal cavity is so rich in vascular supply that this route becomes ideal for delivering medicine in cases of emergency (such as in case of a heart attack or very high blood pressure risking a brain hemorrhage) life saving medicines (such as nitroglycerine to rescue ischemic myocardium and a number of meds to lower blood pressure). It is through this rich vascularity that makes sure medicines are quickly absorbed (far better than other routes including Intravenous) and safely reach the area where needed.

          Now take a moment to think how much of “topical Fluoride” and other chemicals in any tooth paste and mouth wash (such as Chlorhexidine) will get absorbed in those 2 minutes of brushing …. and that too on daily basis!!!
          There is absolutely no way to isolate teeth for a topical application without all the vascularity of gums, sublingual and buccal areas.

          Fuoride is a known Neurotoxin and a Cardiotoxin and plenty of medical studies have established this fact. Topical use of fluoride may be a beneficial for teeth keeping them strong and stain free ….. but is that tiny benefit worth the mega risk involving other important parts of the body like nerves and heart ?




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          1. Not taking part in the fluorine debate here, maybe oil pulling with coconut oil could prevent or even reverse any possible stains as well? Many people say it has made their teeth whiter. And it is claimed to have other benefits, too. :)




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    1. Take a good tablespoon good quality coconut oil and put in your mouth. Swish it around for about 10 minutes. Spit out into garbage can (do not put down sink drain). You don’t want to swallow it after swishing in mouth as it is supposed to contain all the toxins that were in your mouth. This is called oil pulling.




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        1. I have also read other articles like this, but for me the proof is in my mouth. My dentist has noticed a change also. My mouth always feels like I have just had my teeth cleaned and there is no debate about the whiteness of my teeth. But, like everything else in life, you have to decide for yourself! Thanks for your input.




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          1. And you are a snob! Calling them a “sham” is extreme, mean-spirited, smacks of jealousy!
            They are not doing the studies, only (re)searching and reading. All it takes are dedication and intelligence.
            And access to information. True, this doesn’t go into NIH libraries, but, the ADA would, so, that is a reasonable source of the info they cite. And, EVERYTHING they say is true logically, and experientially. This “oil-puling” sounds like EVERY other “miracle cure” I have seen in 50 years as a devotee, then as a Naturopathic Physician with strong leaning to science and evidence-based health care.
            Rinsing your mouth with anything – urine! – for 20 minutes would reduce bacteria and help teeth and gums (as long as it isn’t strong acid.




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      1. A practice probably promoted in order to sell coconut oil. We know what has the science behind it, GREEN TEA as shown in THIS video. THAT’S what works. Save your money and only use coconut oil as a moisturizer.




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        1. I actually was skeptical about oil pulling, but I found all these:

          Effect of oil pulling in promoting oro dental hygiene: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials. – PubMed – NCBI
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27261981

          The Effect of Coconut Oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans Count in Saliva in Comparison with Chlorhexidine Mouthwash. – PubMed – NCBI
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27084861

          Exogenous lipoid pneumonia caused by repeated sesame oil pulling: a report of two cases. – PubMed – NCBI
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26518258

          Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis – A preliminary report. – PubMed – NCBI
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25838632

          Comparative efficacy of oil pulling and chlorhexidine on oral malodor: a randomized controlled trial. – PubMed – NCBI
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25584309

          Effect of oil pulling on halitosis and microorganisms causing halitosis: a randomized controlled pilot trial. – PubMed – NCBI
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21911944

          Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health. – PubMed – NCBI
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21760690

          Mechanism of oil-pulling therapy – in vitro study. – PubMed – NCBI
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21525674

          Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. – PubMed – NCBI
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19336860

          Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: a randomized, controlled, triple-bli… – PubMed – NCBI
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18408265

          I am extremely confused about the efficiency/benefits of oil pulling, at the moment.

          It would be GREAT if Dr. Greger could make an article about oil pulling.

          Also, I read that having that stuff in your mouth for 20 minutes can negatively affect your lungs, any hard science on that?

          And, well, how about the high amount of saturated fat in coconut oil? Would oil pulling make you absorb any of that stuff?

          Thanks!




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      2. And here’s the problem with referring to snopes. You’re saying it’s “junk science” because a snopes article doesn’t back up the practice. But that snopes article doesn’t’ call it “junk science,” — that’s just you editorializing. What snopes actually says, is that it’s “unproven.” Unproven, is not the same thing as DISproven. Wormholes are unproven. The flat earth is disproven. Calling something “junk science” merely because it hasn’t been proven, may be a little unfair. Furthermore, this article is almost two years old, and something like 7 new papers have been published since then.

        Like this one, for example: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27084861

        Relevant quote from the abstract:

        “RESULTS: Statistically significant reduction in S. mutans count was seen in both the coconut oil pulling and Chlorhexidine group.

        CONCLUSION: Oil pulling can be explored as a safe and effective alternative to Chlorhexidine.”

        Traditional medicine may sometimes range from questionable to straight-up BS. But some traditional treatments ARE effective. Many medicines and techniques used today are based on traditional medicine. So I think it’s a mistake to dismiss something merely because it’s unproven, but especially when there are hundreds or thousands of years of usage and anecdotal reports.

        And now I find myself wondering just how often the good folks over at Snopes go back through their older articles — topics they’ve dismissed as “unproven” — when new research comes in. I would hope they have some mechanism in place to deal with this. Because there are countless people like you who rely on them for The Truth, and use their site (and its reputation) as proof of one’s own position. How funny it would be, if people are going around calling this or that false, when there is new evidence to refute such claims — just not collected at snopes.




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    1. “Authority nutrition” recommend eating eggs and meat, despite the lack of evidence for it… The article you posted is written by the same author and CEO of the website, he has a very unscientific way “interpretation” of studies cherry picking the information he wants or outright lying. Having said that all the studies I found on google scholar seem to confirm that there are some benefits to this. Certainly something I would like to see studied more.




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    1. Yes! And guess what ingredient (along with the many whole-food ingredients contained in the supplements used in this study) is found in the product used in this study…yep, green tea. And 30 other published studies show this same whole-food product to increase the health of all the cells in the body, not just the mouth.




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    1. Wondered myself about green tea and our dogs – I’m going to start using it when I brush our dogs’ teeth daily (I don’t like to use the commercial dog toothpastes). Don’t see why it wouldn’t help! (Not sure about adding it to their water, since it has caffeine – unless you get decaf)




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        1. I’m only using it (white tea thus far, rather than green) to dip the toothbrush in when I brush their teeth to help with plaque prevention. Not the same as “giving” them green tea, but hope Colliemom will see your advice.




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          1. I can’t say for sure what is safe, as the gums absorb whatever goes in the mouth and dogs are going to swallow some of whatever goes in their mouths. My family worked for vets growing up and I was surprised by what was toxic for some dogs such as xylitol, grapes and grape products. Some say avocados can be toxic, yet there is an avocado based dog food at Petco. That plaque dissolving mint spray was not recommended by some. Nutritional clays such as Redmond’s can be okay for some breeds but not for Bassets.




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            1. I decided to check the ASPCA website, since they have the most comprehensive information of what is safe and what is toxic for dogs (and cats) I’ve ever found. Rather than pore through their huge database, I did a search for “green tea” (white tea didn’t come up), and this was the result:

              Q: Can dogs drink green tea?
              – Alice E.

              A: Alice, while we generally do not advocate offering people food to pets, decaffeinated green tea can cause minor stomach upset if ingested, and it may still be possible for mild hyperactivity to occur from large ingestions. The bottom line? An occasional lick or two of a green tea beverage (provided there are no herbs or xylitol added) should not pose a problem—but we would not recommend letting your dog consume more than that.




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        2. Checking with a vet is like checking with a doctor ;) Actually, it is worse, because they don’t have the liability, in many cases.

          Also, Laloofah, ASPCA is probably the most toxic thing for dogs (and cats) out there! Remember that they support buying instead of adopting and killing perfectly healthy animals. “People food”? It amazes me how anybody can think that there’s such a thing, apart from processed junk full of additives.

          http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=16694




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  2. Can you keep a jar of water with a tea bag in it on your counter all of the time? Also, is white tea just as good or better or is it best to use green tea?




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    1. I wondered also about using white tea instead of green, if there would be a difference one way or the other. Be great if white tea also acted as a tooth whitener, lol :-)




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  3. Dr. Greger, I thought the tannins in green tea stain your teeth? I’ve recently stopped drinking all caffeine including green and white tea.




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    1. The exact thought on my mind. Less bacteria and better health is important, but I’ve always been advised to use a straw to avoid tannin stains from tea and coffee (particularly black tea). I wonder if having the tea hot or cold makes a difference…. anyone have thoughts or ideas on this?




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    2. Perhaps oil pulling with coconut oil could prevent or reverse any possible staining? Many people say oil pulling with coconut oil has made their teeth whiter and oil pulling is claimed to have other benefits as well. :)




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    3. I too, am wondering about this as a tea lover with a straw. I made my green tea for my mouthwash but now I’m hesitate since further research reminds me the tea will stain my teeth. On hold for now…




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  4. I’m intrigued by the results with amla, which contains a lot of vitamin C. Vitamin C being acidic, wouldn’t amla cause cavities? The researchers probably used amla that had been dried using heat which destroyed the vitamin C in amla. Or, the study was not long enough to make any adverse effects of amla evident.




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    1. Vitamin C is not a strong acid, If I remember correctly. Anyway, Amla is really not just vitamin C, I would say that reasoning is reductionist. The positive effect of Amla is probably due to many chemical, and maybe by synergistic effect with one another, which probably overcome the bad outcome of the vitamin C. This making the whole greater than the sum of its parts : Nutrition 101.




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      1. Adrien: Thank you for the response. I don’t remember the pKa values of vitamin C and lactic acid, which is mainly responsible for tooth decay caused by bacteria , but based on their structures, I don’t expect them to be very different in acidity. I’m also aware that those who take vitamin C powder are advised to rinse the mouth immediately after consumption. But I agree with you; although fresh amla has a lot of vitamin C, most dried amla powders in the market don’t have any. The brand I use in my shakes and smoothies has 70% RDA of vitamin C per serving. I wouldn’t use it for swishing, just to be safe.




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    2. Vitamin C is not a strong acid, If I remember correctly. Anyway, Amla is really not just vitamin C, I would say that reasoning is reductionist. The positive effect of Amla is probably due to many chemical, and maybe by synergistic effect with one another, which probably overcome the bad outcome of the vitamin C. This making the whole greater than the sum of its parts : Nutrition 101.




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      1. Vitamin C, which is usually referring to Ascorbic Acid, is indeed a weak acid. Our chem professor had us memorize the 6 common strong acids in general chemistry because it was easier to remember them since essentially everything else will be weak acids. Ascorbic acid is not one of the 6: HCl, HBr, HI, HNO3, HClO4 and H2SO4. So that trick might help you too. :)

        “Vitamin C” also comes in the form of a mineral salt too. Sodium Ascorbate. It’s a less known form, but I think it’s interesting to know. :)




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  5. So, yell at me and please tell me why I must stop rinsing my mouth with peroxide. I love to do it but fear there are dangers. Does anyone know? Thanks Loads.




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  6. This is great information. The only problem, the Indian restaurants in area do not even know about the fruit ( Amla ). There are no stores in our (Clarksville, TN) city or in Nashville that I know of. Can you help?




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    1. Amla is more medicinal than culinary. Major Indian grocers do carry it but in areas where the ethnic community is smaller you may not be able to find it easily. It tends to be very expensive for its (dry) weight so you might just look into getting it online.




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      1. Be very careful. Alma is a nightshade, apparently, and those with joint and pain issues should consider avoiding all nightshades at all costs. They have bodies unlike those of the average human, and it seems to make things way worse, and possibly prevent healing. Abstinence is the key for many people. Yes, there are good things in some nightshades, but for those adversely affected by nightshades, the good things can be like putting gas on fire. And even be what causes the fire in the first place.




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        1. Are you thinking of Alma-as in the alma paprika pepper? (Capsicum annuum) Peppers (genus Capsicum) are indeed part of the nightshade
          family but the amla (Phyllanthus emblica) Dr. Greger is referring to comes from a tree and not a member of the nightshade family. I think what happened here was a confusing of where the “l” in amla went. This is why, IMHO, scientific names are far superior to “common names.” Less confusion. :)

          (warning: I’m not a botanist, just a science nerd)




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    2. I buy mine on amazon from a company called Terrasoul. The quality is great. It even has a lot of vitamin C intact, meaning that it’s dried under gentle conditions.




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        1. I bought acai from Terrasoul. It came with a story of how christianity saved one of the founders from drug dependency. All I could think about was a million dead Iraqis at the hands of the christian voting block.




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    3. Try asking for “gooseberry”, specifically “Indian gooseberry”, not “amla”. See if they are familiar with that. TN resident as well, but i’m so rural that everything off-center from SAD/SAS must be ordered online. (SAS-standard American supplement)




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  7. Volume 20 is one of my favorites in the recent set of volumes. And this video is one of the top three. I love how practical and indepth it is. And who knew there would be yet one more use for amla? Cool!




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  8. I buy organic Amla powder on Amazon. Be sure to get certified organic, and get it powdered because the dried Amla fruit is like ROCKS. I bought a device to fill capsules and I eat 2-4 capsules of Amla a day because it’s so good for you (anti-oxidants). But it doesn’t taste very good.




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    1. Zennifer I’m with you on the amla taste. Dr Greger had me until he added amla. Bleccccch! I’d rather just take it my amla in capsules that I make so I don’t have to taste it. :)




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    2. I’ve been buying the TerraSoul certified organic amla powder on amazon too…it’s around $11 per bag. I just mix the amla into my morning berry mixture (which I do in a blender, it’s more like a pudding than a smoothie) or into my oats.




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  9. just watched the oral health video…..I am a dental hygienist and see green tea stain on teeth all the time. In my mind, using green tea as an oral rinse doesn’t seem reasonable considering the huge amount of stain it will produce. There are other ways to reduce bacteria and not cause stain or ill effects. A very dilute solution of sodium hydroxide (bleach like Clorox) will reduce bacteria and not harm oral health.




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    1. Nancy: Do you think that the stain you see in your patients is just an aesthetics issue? Or a health issue?

      The distinction matters for me. I don’t personally care if I have super pearly white teeth. In fact, I think super white adult teeth look fake and unattractive. So, if it is just aesthetics, that’s not an issue for me.

      Plus, I have to wonder: If someone were truly going to use green tea (with or without amla) only to rinse a couple times a day – without also drinking it all day long (losing those benefits), would there really likely be a stain problem? If staining is really a problem for someone, I think it would be helpful for people to know whether the issue is really a few mouth washings or is really an issue with drinking a lot of it.

      What do you think?




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      1. sodium hydroxide is not bleach. It is caustic and there is no reason for it to be used in your mouth. Bleach is sodium hypochlorite and I was taught that it is a safe disinfectant at very dilute levels. However I have burned my degrees, literally.

        I had a chem prof. at uni who used to dilute DDT on the first day of class to 1 molecule per glass and drink it. This much I know is true: The dose makes the poison.

        EVERYONE! …. Lets be careful out there.

        I thought we wanted the bacteria to convert nitrate to nitric oxide?




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          1. My wife is a dental hygienist who tells me to brush my tongue but not to use mouthwash. So I do that. and floss and brush. she give me a gold star!! but really we both agree with the idea that keeping your oral cavity healthy is an important part of the NO cycle that Dr. G illustrated in his video series so nicely.

            I do make a mouthwash out of xylitol and sodium fluoride but I am a chemist….don’t recommend it for everyone. I just feel funny not using any mouthwash at all. she says we don’t need a mouthwash.




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    2. One more question or thing to consider: is sodium hydroxide bad for the environment? I did a super-quick search and it didn’t look good. I would have to do a more careful search to get a good answer. But I think this would be a good issue to consider.

      One person using the diluted ratio you are referring to would probably not cause any environmental harm. But the planet is currently, severely over populated with humans. What would happen to the environment if lots of people jumped on this bandwagon? I don’t know the answer. It is an honest question for people to think about. To focus a bit more: I’m thinking about how we flush so many drugs down the toilet that our drinking water is shows signs of prescription medications. Little bits can add up to serious problems.




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      1. The biggest issue here is what name we are giving for “bleach.” Sodium
        hydroxide, chemical formula NaOH is NOT bleach. Not in the slightest! It
        is a strong base, and also goes by the name of “Lye.” (The ingredient
        used to make soap, if some of you are familiar) If you are not familiar
        with it as an ingredient in soap making, it also can be used as a drain
        cleaner. It is used as a drain cleaner because it is HIGHLY CORROSIVE to
        the proteins that make up your hair and skin and will dissolve them!

        This
        is NOT something you want to be messing around with if you do not know
        what it is. Many people think of acids when they think of chemical
        burns, but strong bases will burn you VERY badly as well. In fact, if
        you get a Sodium Hydroxide (lye) solution on your skin it will give you
        severe burns-not only will it burn you, but when NaOH mixes with water
        it also has an exothermic reaction (produces heat), so it will be hot
        too….

        The chemical formula for bleach you are looking for is
        NaClO which is written as sodium hypochlorite you may have also heard of
        hypoclorous acid (That’s the form of chlorine common for pool water)

        Sorry
        for the long rant, but I only just finished my second semester college
        chemistry course, and I get a bit nervous when I see people confusing
        chemicals. I’m nowhere near a Chemist yet-but I definitely think that
        people should at least be well versed in the information provided from a
        general chemistry course for safety reasons if nothing else…..

        Be safe everyone! :)




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      1. Very good question @george. Thought about it too, but I think the extract you’re talking about would have tannins because some extracts are just concentrated green tea, so same thing just less water. Pure ECGC however, if it is the active ingredient (nothing proves it yet) is a white powder and would presumably not cause any darkening of the teeth.
        Note that some mouthwashes already use “green tea extract”, it’s not clear what that refers too. I suspect it’s ECGC they put because their products are clear in color. If not, then they use concentrated green tea in very small amounts, just enough to put it on the label for marketing purposes.




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    3. Do not wash your mouth with sodium hydroxide at any concentration. There is no possible benefit and lots of potential harm. Read all advice from the internet with a large grain of sodium chloride. B-bird’s the word.




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  10. Hi, I’m really glad Dr. Greger posted this info. I also read his notes below about Cold Steeping Green Tea, and Amala powder. I’m wondering if you recommend adding lemon juice to the mouthwash mix. I remember Dr. Greger mentioning that in a earlier video about green tea. Thanks for your reply.




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    1. 48south: I’m not 100% sure, but going strictly on memory (which may be faulty): the bit about lemon and tea was about getting white tea to have more antioxidants than green. Without the lemon, the white tea had less antioxidants. This has nothing to do with oral health.

      I do not believe that anyone would recommend lemon juice in a mouthwash because (based on memory of another video), the lemon is acidic and acidic foods like citrus can, if memory serves, erode the enamal. I think I remember that we should be careful not to brush our teeth immediately after eating citrus, because we do not want to push the acid into our teeth.

      Maybe someone else will jump in to confirm what I wrote here, but if not, I’m sure you could find those videos.




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      1. Hi 48south, I’ve gotten mine from Banyan Botanicals. Good pricing, organic, and they have good statements on their site regarding quality control (heavy metals, microbial, and identification) and ethical sourcing of products.




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  11. For those racing to check their mouthwash label, in the U.S. chlorhexidene is only used in prescription mouthwashes for advanced gum disease and post-surgical care.




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  12. Will this work with DECAF green tea? I don’t consume anything with caffeine. And must it stay refrigerated? I noticed someone else asked that but didn’t receive a response.




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    1. Not sure if there would be a significant difference from different green teas but it’s a good question. Also, geographic origins would be more reliable than brands, since brands may source in different regions anyway. If you really want to know the answer you’d have to find a study on levels of “catechins, especially epigalllocatechin-gallate” in different varieties of green tea. I know that not even varieties but growing methods alone can change mineral content or vitamin content up to ~10-fold, so the catechin content may as well be affected. You should be expecting to find some differences.
      Then you’d have to look into how these varying concentrations (if any found) would affect the bacteria populations, and finally find a dry green tea dose that would do a good job regardless what green tea you get. That’s how I would do it from only reading if I really want a proper answer to your question. There are other ways I’m thinking of but would require equipement.




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    1. Supposing only some of the active ingredients are lost in the decafeination process (you can research that) then as long as the mouth pH is kept high you’re fine. Look the article I posted above, it should be able to apply to decaf tea, although it’s weaker and you might need more relatively.




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  13. Because of previous videos, I drink a combination of green, white, and hibiscus loose tea. Is this enough to prevent cavities or do I need to drink plain green tea? Is there a certain amount of tea I should drink?




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  14. So…just on the phone with my brother who bought an organic green tea,put one tea bag in a litre of water,and rinsed his mouth…it has turned his teeth brown!!!!! he is horrified(always had beautiful white teeth),also stained the porcelain in the sink brown!! What has happened? How to restore previous whitenss to his teeth?




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      1. What did you do to restore your teeth to their natural colour? This is definitely a negative outcome isn’t it? so let me pick …brown teeth or decreased bacteria…..hmmmmmmm




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        1. I don’t use it as a mouthwash anymore. And when I drink tea, now I try to swallow as fas as possible, to minimise contact with my teeth as recommended by my dentist.




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  15. Thanks so much for this information. I am curious about other products now. I was wondering what facial skin care products Dr. Greger would recommend (what products or what product line-brand name). There are so many out there, many of them VERY pricey! I would love to know the real truth about what to use. I am 51 and my main concerns are sagging skin and brown spots. Any recommendations would be very much appreciated! I’m tired of spending over $100.00 on one bottle of face cream. Thank you!




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  16. Is one green tea bag equivalent to 5 grams of green tea in your recipe? What about Moraccan Mint green tea vs. plain green tea? How much do I reduce the green tea if my container (glass jar) is only 16 fluid ounces (473 ml)? How long is it good for sitting on the bathroom counter. Refrigerator storage is not an option. Due to gingivitis my teeth are sensitive to cold.




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    1. 1) Don’t be too obsessed about a strict recipe, because concentratioon of the active ingredients can vary 10-fold from a green tea to another. If you read the post I shared, what matters is that your green tea is potent enough to pass the pH test. It’s all about concentration of the ingredients in your green tea, not so much about how much green tea in your mouthwash, that’s what makes it tricky to produce at home vs. in a lab.
      2) Not sure what the mint would add, and I believe your tea is moroccan green tea if you say it, I am just surprised because moroccan mint tea normally uses black tea.
      3) Shelf-life: In the experiment the green tea was used for 3 weeks. If you put something in the gridge it surely shouldn’t be th emouthwash to be used but rather the “mother solution”, meaning the bulk of it.




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    2. Test the ph with paper strips you buy where? The label on my Moroccan mint says “green tea, spearmint, lemongrass, and peppermint” made by Stash. Home ph test was not explained. Can you simplify your response?




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  17. For those interested to have the recipe and instructions based on the studies presented in the video, or wondering whether white tea can be used, or how much amla to use, I adressed all these here : http://www.youcefbanouni.com/988/science-based-recipe-for-green-tea-and-white-tea-mouthwash/
    Notably, I raised the problem of the variation in catechins content (incl. EGCG) found in green tea and how that is very likely to affect the potency of any homemade mouthwash that follows a strict recipe. But I proposed a simple hack to go around that and actually test the potency of your green tea extract before using it, regardless of the potency of the green/white tea you have.




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    1. Tested green tea mouthwash for over a month, no noticeable darkening of the teeth.
      Mouth feels very fresh and “slippery” after swishing with green tea.
      For preparation purposes, I don’t recommend making large batches that you’d keep in the fridge for later refills. Even in the fridge at 5°C the taste of green tea changes a lot within a month and becomes quite unpleasant although perhaps bearable.
      Bought white tea too to experiment with it.
      Ultimately, I will need a precise digital pH tester to verify that this is working well.




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        1. You’re most welcome. Extra note on teeth brightness/darkening :
          I am well-aware of a U.S.-only obsession with very white teeth, but most countries don’t have that in their grooming/oral health culture. So, not being from the US, it must be taken into account that I did not notice teeth darkening *as someone who never brightened their teeth*. My teeth are generally bright, but not artificial white. Perhaps the darkening would be more obvious on whitened teeth because 1) the contrast would be easier to spot 2) Whitened teeth may be more prone to darkening, they could be more porous given that teeth whitening often involves dissolving out the minerals in the teeth (demineralization).
          No one wants dark teeth, but if I must compromise or take a very minor risk, I’d value healthy cosmetics like green tea (provided I can measure it works : ph-meter) rather than bright teeth maintained with teeth whitening demineralizing sessions, or toxic mouthwashes.




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          1. Youcef: That’s such an insightful comment. A very good point.

            For myself: Even thought I live in America, I consider the fashion trend of baby-white teeth to be unattractive, because it is so fake looking. I also find it creepy. As long as my teeth are in the white-ish family, I’m perfectly happy. So, I’m not dissuaded from trying green tea as an actual mouth wash.

            Thanks again for your comments.




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  18. I have periodontal disease. And after 8+ months of being vegan (WFPB – nutrient dense), I have NO problems anymore (I don’t use regular toothpaste anymore either, I use sesame oil to swish twice a day, use a waterflosser and alternate brushing with baking soda and water from day to day) My teeth are very clean and my gums bleed very little. I’m pretty sure my pocket depths have improved also, since less debris is coming out when flossing now compared to some months ago. On top of that my chronic jaw pain has COMPLETELY vanished. I also drink a cup of amla tea every day when I get up in the morning ;-)




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    1. That happened with me as well. after 2 years of Starch Solution(Dr John McDougall)..my gums don’t bleed anymore,even with a dental cleaning…I don’t use any fats…wonder if the sesame absorbs sublingually?




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    2. I had similar results since turning to WFPB diet. No more Gum flare ups or receding gum , no bleeding, hardly any pain.
      Although the pain in the gums still comes back approx once per month now (used to be most of the time), it goes away after swishing with 1 Tsp baking soda in water. I’m no chemist so I don’t know how it works but it is more effective than any mouth wash I’ve tried.
      The dentist and periodontist did a pretty good job when I went for regular cleans , but while I was still on a omnivore diet the pocket depths just didn’t improve and there was constant flare ups and chronic pain , even though I took oral hygiene seriously.
      It was more like fighting fire, suppressing the symptoms temporarily , but now with the WFPB diet it has tamed whatever that was causing the symptoms. Finding nutritionfacts.org by chance a while ago has been so helpful.




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  19. we wondered about two things with this. One is when we drink tea does that make us swallow all the bacteria that is our mouth? Two is if we drink the tea as it is with amla, which is what we now have in the fridge. Would that be bad, he wonders why he can’t just swallow it, because we drink tea once in a while and swallow it?




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  20. Two questions: 1) Does anyone know the exact ratio of amla and green tea that should be used? 2) Isn’t the sugar that’s in amla bad for your teeth?




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  21. Amla. Found at an Indian grocery store. Package says it is for hair and avoid contact with mouth & eyes. Doesn’t sound like a good choice to add to mouthwash.




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    1. JoAnn: I’m not an expert on amla, but I have some speculation for you. When I was researching amla some time ago, I remember seeing some packaged for hair and some for eating. That lead me to think that either there is some really good marketing going on – OR there are different grades of amla. And that if you are going to consume it, then you want to be sure to get the right kind/grade. If the latter is true, then I agree that I wouldn’t want to put the hair version in my mouthwash, even if I wasn’t going to swallow my mouthwash.




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  22. To make a routine of using green tea and Amla easy, I wonder if Macha powder mixed with the Amla powder and then mixed with water or added to toothpaste would be just as effective. This way would be easier to store and administer. Any thoughts?




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  23. While I love the idea of being able to use green tea as a mouthwash. The issue I have here is the very small sample size. The pilot study only had 25 participants, and the comparison study only had 30. While this is a cool finding, more research will need to be done with a much larger sample size to prove effectiveness before changing practice.




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  24. I have been looking for a good mouth wash that doesn’t dry my mouth out. I love the way mouthwash makes my mouth feel, but I want to get something that lasts. I would really like to try coconut oil like you have suggested Linda, where can I get some? http://www.limeridgedental.ca/en/




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  25. I have been looking for a good mouth wash that doesn’t dry my mouth out. I love the way mouthwash makes my mouth feel, but I want to get something that lasts. I would really like to try coconut oil like you have suggested Linda, where can I get some? http://www.limeridgedental.ca/en/




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  26. I do not think that antibacterial mouthwash such as Listerine is bad for us. They kill bacteria in out tongue that causes bad breath along with the ones that cause Plague and other oral health problems. I believe that thy are essential to help us to have a good oral health.

    Param
    Dentist Brampton




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  27. What kind of amla do you use (extract, powder, capsules) and where do you purchase? Youcef’s website and instructions were not clear enough.




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  28. Chlorhexidine Is evidently only present in prescription only mouth rinses per an internet search on the topic. I was concerned that it was an ingredient in the mouthwash I have been using for many years now.




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  29. Dr G you said, you swish cold green tea and then drink it. How long you swish? doesn’t it contain bad bacteria? also how much of amla to add to your green tea?




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  30. I use a “remineralizing” mouthwash because I have some spots that may turn into cavities and I’m trying to prevent it. From what I’ve read, remineralizing mouthwashes do work somewhat. I’m not sure HOW, though. Would your recipe have the same effect? Maybe just reducing plaque is enough.




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  31. How does Dr. G reger feel about root canals? Are they safe or toxic? Regular dentists say they are completely safe. My local natural dentist says they allow toxic bacteria to develop. I’m so confused.




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  32. My thoughts on this are that Amla powder would be acidic given the high vitamin c content. If you’re swishing it in your mouth for 10 minutes it might affect the enamel.




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  33. Also, does the green tea kill off the streptococcus mutans in our mouths so we don’t get peridontal disease – or was it cavities? Or is the pH factor that is the important issue? Please more information.




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  34. I am afraid to use mouthwashes as sometimes its giving me mouth ulcers. I still recommend a regular visit to your dentist which reminds me of my dentist appointment in Marina Medical Centre tomorrow




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  35. Great Video. Also, People in my village(small village in south India) wash with neem tree sticks for cleaning. How effective do you think this is?




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    1. To say that meta analysis directly contradicted Dr. Gregor’s conclusion is not accurate. That study is a meta analysis, meaning, it essentially looks at other studies and tries to draw conclusions from that.

      So, what the meta analysis did, was compare the effectiveness of chlorhexidine and herbal mouthwashes. Green tea with amla powder are just one of many types of herbal mouthwashes. However, this meta analysis looked at 11 studies total and includes only one study comparing the effectiveness of green tea against chlorhexidine. That study found no statistically significant difference between chlorhexidine and green tea in plaque reduction.

      Additionally, the facts stated in meta analysis of the study you linked can roughly be summarized as: The effectiveness of herbal mouthwashes in controlling plaque and gingivitis varies. Some herbal mouthwashes are comparable to chlorhexidine in controlling plaque and gingivitis. We know a lot about chlorhexidine and it’s side effects. We don’t know much about the side effects in herbal mouthwashes. More studies are required to replace chlorhexidine.




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  36. Are the benefits of the green tea as a mouthwash due to the fluoride it contains or is there something else? I wonder if green tea said to contain less fluoride will have the same effect…




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    1. Hi, Nibil. I am Christine, a NF volunteer. The USDA Nutrient Database does not list fluoride as a constituent of brewed green tea. The benefits of green tea appear to be related to phytochemicals that inhibit the action of bacteria in the mouth. I hope that helps!




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      1. Hi Christine, thank you very much for your reply and I apology for not having read it before. When I wrote that, I was thinking about, for example, that: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/childhood-tea-drinking-may-increase-fluorosis-risk/. I also read somewhere else that the cheap green tea is usually the worst one since they use the older leaves from the plant, which have accumulated more fluoride.
        This time I’ll pay more attention to this discussion and reply it earlier;)




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  37. I’ve been using this method for about a year and I think my teeth look dull and grey because of it, I have also noticed that Dr. Greger’s teeth look grey it might be because of this method. You might want to put a warning before people try this, it can stain your teeth.




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  38. Maybe I’m reading too fast but I’m lloking for a simple answer as to wether rinsing with green (or white) tea can cause stains on your teeth. I’m especially concerned for my daughter…




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  39. I became quickly annoyed with swishing oil in my mouth for 15 minutes every morning and green tea stains my teeth. Now, I brush my mouth with Auromere (non flouride) then afterwards, I swish a capsule of 115 Billion VSL#3 probiotics and kick those s. mutans asses!




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  40. The information contained in this report (the references) was so helpful for me! I was able to convince my Endodontist to endorse my use of green tea rinse instead of chlorhexidrene after having some oral surgery. Thank you Dr. Greger!




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